Same issue, different day
LaCROSSE — Just like they did in Wednesday’s 17-7 victory over LaVille, LaCrosse softball found themselves in a 4-0 hole before they even got their first hacks at the plate in the opening round of the Porter County Conference Tournament on Thursday to Kouts.
There would be no repeat of Wednesday’s come-from-behind victory for coach Dave Amor and his Tigers, as the Fillies scored the game’s first five runs and freshman right-hander Cassidy Mills pitched six workman-like innings of two-hit ball in the 8-3 win for Kouts over LaCrosse. That sent the Fillies to Saturday morning’s PCC Tournament semifinals that it’ll host against the winner of Washington Township and Westville this evening.
“You take away that first inning and it’s a tight ballgame,” Amor said. “We’re getting there. We made some plays and if we can get to the point where we’re making the plays all the time ... we’re hitting it. Unfortunately, we’re hitting at people all the time and it’s not falling. It’s coming. We’ve got four more games coming up next week to work on things, and then the sectional.”
The Fillies stormed out of the barn with a 4-0 advantage with all four runs scoring with two outs in the opening frame. Katie Filipas ripped a two-out double, followed by Tigers starter Morgan Wozniak handing free passes to Morgan Kobza and Mallory Simpson to load the bases. Hannah Krueger blooped an RBI single and an error at third allowed Filipas and Kobza to score and make it a 2-0 game. A second Tiger error in the inning allowed Simpson to score and Krueger touched home plate on Lauren Aguirre’s RBI single to push the deficit to four through a half inning.
“We came out wanting to come strong out of the gates and we did,” Fillies coach John Hall said. “We put the bat on the ball and we moved runners over when they were on. Our pitcher Cassidy Mills did a great job today keeping pitches in the zone and allowing our defense to stay active and make plays, which we always like that. We did a great job and we want to continue that. I call (the PCC Tournament) a three-game series. We got things we need to work on and we know that, and with the day off (today), we’ll be able to work some things out.”
The visitors’ half of the first inning was all the run support Mills would need from the Kouts offense, as she only faced any real danger in the home half of the third when the Tigers plated two of their three runs on the night. Three Fillie errors scored Hailey O’Brien, who reached on one error, and leadoff hitter Kaylee Welkie, who reached base in three of her four at-bats with a pair of singles.
Kouts scored once more in the top half of the third when Krueger’s RBI groundout scored Simpson to make it 5-2, and then plated a pair of runs in the fourth when Simpson’s triple scored Kobza and then the junior shortstop would score on a wild pitch to make it 7-2 Fillies and basically put the game out of reach for good for the home side.
“I thought it was a good performance from Morgan (Wozniak) tonight,” Amor said on his right-hander, who did walk seven hitters, but was only charged with one earned run on three Tigers errors and a couple passed balls. “She was throwing strikes, which is what we need her to do, but they were just hitting them. There were a few times we didn’t make a play for her when we really needed to, but she’s doing her part. She’s throwing strikes and I still have another pitcher behind her (freshman Jersie Bartels), but I don’t wanna throw her in there and discourage her just yet.”
Mills kept the Tigers off the scoreboard over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, allowing just two baserunners while striking out four before she departed for Kobza, who closed things out for the victorious Fillies in the home half of the seventh.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of the girls,” Hall said, noting their win improvement from eight two seasons ago, to 13 last year and reaching the 13 mark again on Thursday during first-round play. “We’ve come a very long way in three years. The girls are buying in and doing anything we ask of them. We have some freshmen kinda filling in, too. They’re learning on the go, but they’re doing what we’re asking of them and our older girls are taking the reigns and leading the way for us.”
Porter County Conference Tournament
Kouts 8, LaCrosse 3
Kaylee Welkie reached base three times in four plate appearances.